Conservative Party plans to reintroduce mandatory national service

In a bid to foster a sense of national unity, the Conservative Party has proposed to reinstate mandatory national service if successful in the upcoming general election.

The initiative would see eighteen-year-olds given a choice between a year-long full-time military position or monthly community volunteering commitments.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak touts the program as a means to cultivate the “national spirit” witnessed during the pandemic. However, critics from the Labour Party have described the estimated £2.5 billion cost as “desperate” and “unfunded.”

The Conservatives intend to kick off a trial run of the program in September 2025, with the specifics to be determined by a Royal Commission. The military placements are designed to offer young individuals exposure to various fields like cyber security, logistics, procurement, and civil response operations. Concurrently, non-military volunteering would entail 25 days of service with institutions such as the fire service, police, and NHS.

While the Conservative Party argues that national service could channel disengaged youth away from unemployment and criminal activities, they have not outlined potential repercussions for non-participation.

Drawing parallels to former Prime Minister David Cameron’s “Big Society” concept, Labour has criticized the Tories for yet another costly, unfunded pledge, blaming the party’s economic policies for exacerbating financial burdens.

National service, originally instituted in 1947 by Clement Attlee’s Labour government post-World War Two, mandated male individuals aged 17 to 21 to serve in the armed forces for 18 months before its cessation in 1960.